Tag Archives: Inside Passage

Patti Tana at Sea


Sept. 19, 2011

My feast of poetry on this cruise included Patti Tana’s This Is Why You Flew Ten Thousand Miles. The ‘why’ refers to Lilliana, a girl adopted from China whose parents flew that long distance to bring her to a new home. The parents had prepared a home surrounded by love and decorated the nursery

Parents and prospective parents will go long distances to give birth, adopt, or foster a child. Then for a lifetime they will strive to protect and empower; to love and let go. Ten thousand miles or about ten thousand days may be what it takes to launch a child. She or he is still very much our child, no matter how long we live.

For a time we find ourselves in the sandwich generation when we have both children and elders for whom to care. Parenting is one way to learn the skills needed as parents and grandparents become increasingly frail and vulnerable. Our children may in turn have a chance to assist us in our later years.

Patti writes about living, loving, and “daughtering.” She writes of the delights of parenting and the despair of loss. Many of her poems are very sensual in nature.

I “met” Patti on the phone shortly after I repeated an error in a newsletter. The article had attributed her poem about a garden/gardening to Anonymous. The closing line, “That Patti, she was one hot tomato” did not refer to her demise but of her own wish for her personal legacy. At least that’s how I remember it several years later.

At any rate, Patti tracked me down and gave me a call to correct my mistake. “I’m not dead,” she told me. I enjoyed a delightful conversation with this New York Jewish poet who teaches as well as composes poems. I bought a couple of books from her and she sent me an extra. This Is Why You Flew Ten Thousand Miles, her latest publication at the time, became part of my collection. I loved it so well I bought a second copy for a friend who had adopted a Chinese daughter.

By the way, I also read a book of poems by Hafiz on this trip, but I think he will not call no matter what I say about his poetry!

Here’s a short poem by Hafiz:

The Happy Virus

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious –

So kiss me.

“The Happy Virus,” The Subject Tonight Is Love:
60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz, versions by Daniel Ladinsky
Pumpkin House Press, 1996, p. 40.

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Precious Times


Precious Times Sept. 17-18, 2011

Anticipating ten days away in a cooler climate, two extra blessings preceded and accompanied me on the trip. A 92-year old member of the church quietly passed away about four hours after I visited her. This time she probably did not hear my prayer, song, and farewell, but she is fully at peace now and that is a blessing.

On the day of our departure, a long-awaited and healthy baby Sophia Elizabeth was born at home. Her parents, big sister, and countless others count her birth as a special blessing.

These two life transitions filled my heart with a wonderful sense of peace while I packed last minute items for our journey: an Alaskan cruise! Jon planned it all and gave me this gift of a lifetime–something I have imagined only in my dreams.

We flew Alaskan Airlines non-stop from Austin to Seattle. There is just one flight per day, so we spent one night in Seattle before the cruise. We took light rail–SeaTac to the closest station to the port and walked through Pike’s Market to watch fish being tossed around for customers’ entertainment.

A guy named Russell walked with us from the train. He is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, based in Chicago. Every time he comes to Seattle for the day he makes this trek to the Market. He told us where to find an elevator down to sea level. Walking along the boardwalk, we cheered on a Susan G. Komen fundraising walk. Lots of pink ribbons, outfits, and tutus. Several decorated vehicles carried other happy participants in the fight against breast cancer.

There was no need to ask directions any more–the Norwegian Pearl loomed over the dock with its 14 decks. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. Fourteen staff members checked us in and gave us key cards. That was all we needed to make additional purchases on the ship. Meals were included in the cruise fare unless we wanted to go to a specialty restaurant, drink sodas or alcohol, gamble, or buy clothing, jewelry, art, or souvenirs on board.

Our only additional expenses were a room service fee (added automatically), one glass of wine, and one embarkation photo. Souvenir shopping was all on shore.

Tomorrow we will be at sea all day, on the way to Juneau. Stay tuned for more!